The years have gone by as fast as a Kyle Datres no look pass to the cutter for an easy layup. The journey will soon come to an end, but what an example of what can be accomplished when mind, body, competitive spirit and desire to win are nourished by hard work and a family that loves sports.
I was fortunate to coach Kyle. He was my quarterback and point guard from third grade until he hit the high school level. I have spent many sundrenched days with him and his family at the baseball field, and I also spent some time in the dugout with his father, Lynn, during that special last year of Little League.
It was obvious at an early age that Kyle, Bird, K-Dat, “3”, take your pick he answers to all, was my point guard. Early in grade school his ability to dribble with either hand, see the court and his love to distribute the ball were obvious. Even at that age, he didn't care who scored the basket. He was about winning and team.
Kyle's dad knew a thing or two about fundamentals and teaching the game. So Lynn came on board when I believe his son was in the fourth or fifth grade. Jim LaPoint and Kevin Baggett also assisted me and did great jobs. With Lynn, I had a basketball encyclopedia and teacher. I would joke that as a grade school coach I had the best Assistant Coach in the State that any Coach could have. This wasn't really a joke. Lynn assisted Williamsport to a 30 and 0 State Title season in 1984. I was fortunate to have him on the bench; and the kids were fortunate to have him as a teacher of basketball.
With the deal, I also got the Datres family for support: Lynn's twin sister Krissie, Kyle's brother and sisters and the Stopper gang. See, if you didn't know, Cindy is a Stopper. Kyle has great blood lines of athleticism and smarts from both parents.
The Datres/Stopper clan got behind Kyle from his first bounce pass and were very supportive of my program. Kyle had plenty of guidance, love and support from his grandparents down to his cousins. This was also extended to the rest of the team. No matter where we played, the stands were full of Datres’s, Stoppers and all the parents of my players. Cindy was always the most vocal fan and still is. She always has something positive to say about everyone.
I asked Kyle’s Mom for some thoughts on her son.
“Kyle has an inner competitiveness that drives him to perform at his best both on and off the court. What I admire the most is his leadership skills. He would not be the athlete he is without his teammates. He truly wants to win--bottom line! He wouldn't be able to do that by himself. He is able to push his teammates to be the best they can be by having mutual respect and understanding for one another. His people skills, determination, and character (what I am most proud of) leads to his personal and team's success.
God has blessed Kyle with his athleticism, and I believe he takes advantage of these gifts that he's been given. Being our youngest, he is pushed to excel in all his endeavors by his older brother Kory and his sisters, Kelli and Kerri. He looks to them for advice and appreciates their support. The person that he has become in my eyes is a "true gentleman!" I couldn't be more proud of Kyle's accomplishments and to be called Kyle's mom!”
And you should be Cindy.
The one thing that struck me about Bird was his ability to be coached, instructed and told something just once. As a coach this makes things so much easier.
I had the definition of a pure point guard and a coach on the floor at a very early age. Who was raised and tutored at home by the consummate sports family. I also had Jimmy, Omar, Ben, Tommy, Brennan and Michael -- athletes at every position. Wow, does that make coaching fun!
Our success continued through middle school. When Kyle hit CI's court everyone knew he would be his point guard for four years. The four years have passed in the blink of an eye. The team has enjoyed 95 victories which include CI's 800th win, CI's State record setting win, three District Titles and hopefully a few more wins this season.
This past week, Kyle scored his 1,000th point joining Ben Sosa and Omar Little as teammates on that most special list. Bird did it the only way I would expect him to, playing on a bad ankle in the District Championship against Wellsboro.
As time wound down, Kyle needed just three points for 1,000. His teammates helped him line up some open looks from behind the arc. But to no avail, he still needed a measly three points. Bird then drove to the basket, went up strong; hoop, harm, foul shot swished, and Lancer fans along with Wellsboro folks gave “3” Kyle Datres a standing ovation.
It was fitting he earned his last points to join the 1,000 point club this way -- an old fashion three point play, gutting it out and working hard. Just like he has done his entire career, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Kyle is also the all time assist leader in the Keystone State, 826 and counting.
"The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree." But seriously, I couldn't be more proud of Kyle on and off the court.” Commented Kyle’s grandfather, "Poppy" Stopper with a smile on his face.
When I think point guards in our area’s history, two come to mind, Kyle and Peter White Jr. who led Williamsport to that perfect season. Peter went on to set the assist record at Yale. Kyle will go on to help North Carolina win baseball games.
Lynn has been there for both players’ accomplishments. I asked him for thoughts about his son.
"It’s never about Kyle. He has no burning desire to be recognized with accolades and awards. He is the ultimate team player. He wants to win. He does his job to help his teammates perform to their highest level. He's a bear to be around when his team loses."
"We are proud Kyle has been able to combine his athletic prowess with his academic success in the classroom."
Tip of the cap to Kyle. Go get ‘em in the State Basketball Tournament, this baseball season and next year as a Tar Heel. Thank you to the Datres family for supporting Lancer Athletics.